Costa Rica 2014 – Part 2

Costa Rica - Based on OCHA MapThe Kairos weekend got off to a great start on Thursday evening (May 22). Today (May 23) was the first full day of the weekend. As we’ve been spending time in the prison I’ve been noticing some things . There are definitely some differences and similarities between our prison culture and the prison culture here.

First the differences. Here the men wear their own clothes. There are no uniforms as there are in Alabama. Here men can choose how they want to wear their hair, beards, etc. There are men with long hair, short hair and mohawks. However, I haven’t seen a mullet yet. There are all sorts of beard styles as well. Here the prison is staffed at full capacity. There are corrections officers everywhere. At home our facilities are chronically understaffed. Here, the families of the inmates can bring them food. At home that is tightly restricted.

Now the similarities. The inmate population is achingly young. At the communion service on Wednesday night I was struck by just how young the inmates are. That is also true of the Kairos participants. Just like at home there are many teenagers in the prison system. Drugs and alcohol are a major factor in criminal activity here just as they are at home. There are several participants in the weekend who don’t know how to read or write. Lack of education is a major factor in criminal activity here just as it is at home.

There is one other similarity that I noticed right away. The men here respond positively to our presence in the prison. When they are shown the love of God in real, tangible ways they are very receptive to it. That reminds me once again that God’s love is the greatest power in all the world. It doesn’t matter whether that that love is shown in Costa Rica or Alabama. It doesn’t matter where it happens. It does matter greatly that it does happen. I am thankful for a church like Bluff Park UMC that prays for and looks for ways to show God’s love to the world whether that happens at home or in a country far removed from home.

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